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Al Jazeera reports: "Spain's 'indignants' are taking to the streets in 80 cities and towns to decry economic injustice in a show of strength one year after the birth of their movement shook the political establishment."

Authorities say they will not allow a repeat of last year's month-long sprawling encampment in Puerta del Sol. (photo: AFP)
Authorities say they will not allow a repeat of last year's month-long sprawling encampment in Puerta del Sol. (photo: AFP)



Spain's 'Indignants' Return to the Streets

By Al Jazeera

12 May 12

 

Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns

 

Thousands stage nationwide anti-government rallies, a year after movement that inspired 'Occupy' protests was born.

pain's "indignants" are demonstrating in cities and towns nationwide to decry economic injustice and mark the first birthday of the grassroots movement which inspired "Occupy" protests in the US and around the world.

Tens of thousands of people rallied on Saturday to mark the beginning of a four-day protest that will end on May 15, the anniversary of the movement's birth.

Several columns of protesters marched separately on Madrid's city centre from all directions to converge on central Puerta del Sol. But authorities vowed to stop them camping in the square, which became the cradle of their popular movement.

The "Indignados" (or indignants), a youth-led movement which took to the streets in 2011 in protest against political corruption and economic hardship, say not much has changed in a year.

They feel they have even more to demonstrate against this time around, including a recession, unemployment at 24.4 per cent, and 52 per cent for the young, and more than 30 billion euros ($39 billion) worth of austerity cuts so far this year.

Al Jazeera's Sonia Gallego, reporting from Madrid, said: "The message is still the same as it was last year. They want a more democratic way of doing politics, and they also want to use this as a statement against the government and against the austerity cuts that the government has started to implement this year."

Gallego said the movement was still focused on working at a grassroots level, which had been one of its key successes.

"It has managed to galvanise communities to really think about what they want, and to think about politically how they can achieve this, all through their neighbourhoods or through their communities throughout the country," she said.

'Permanent assembly'

The conservative government, in power since December, has issued a permit for the Indignados to use Puerta del Sol for a five-hour assembly on Saturday and for 10 hours on each of the following three days.

The permit said they must wrap up their activities in the square on Saturday by 10pm (20:00GMT). But the activists' plans published online called for a minute of silence at midnight and for a "permanent assembly" to be held in Puerta del Sol during the four-day protest.

Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, the deputy prime minister, said the government would ensure that the hours were respected.

"To stay in the square beyond those hours would be a violation of the law and of the rights of other citizens, and this government will ensure the law is respected," she told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.

The Indignados have staged overwhelmingly peaceful protests and neighbourhood assemblies since their camp at Puerta del Sol was dismantled on June 12 last year, but interest has tapered off.

"The movement has mutated, it is still there. What has happened is that it is not on the streets, it is online and in social networks," said Noelia Moreno, a former spokeswoman for the movement. "This is a long-distance race, no one can change an entire political system in one day or one year, it takes time."

However, critics charge that beyond staging rallies, the movement has had little impact.

Protests across Europe

Meanwhile, anti-austerity demonstrations were held across Europe on Saturday.

In central London, there were scuffles between police and protesters who returned to the scene of their former Occupy camp, which they had been evicted from earlier this year.

The protesters had marched to St Paul's cathedral protesting against the so-called "one per cent" of financial firms and bankers.

In Portugal's capital Lisbon, about 200 protesters, mainly unemployed youths, marched through the streets chanting slogans against the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission, which are imposing tough conditions in return for loans needed to keep the country afloat.

In Budapest, about 2,500 supporters of the far right Jobbik party marched in protest of the government's economic policies.

The policies include a series of tax hikes and other austerity measures that Hungary's government says are needed to keep the country's budget deficit under control and support growth.

 

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+8 # RMDC 2012-05-12 16:05
It is time for full scale revolutions in Europe and then a spread to the US. Clearly the governments of all European nations have surrendered to the EU or the European Parliament, which is composed of Europe's business and military elites. The only way to resist the EU is to first throw out the colonialist government imposed by the EU and then withdraw from the EU itself.

The EU was always a corporate ploy to take over the social democratic governments of Europe. It looked good on paper, when all you had to do was consider the people supporting it and its intentions were clear. The European Union is anti-democratic to its core. It is not elected. It does not represent people, but only the interests of corporations and militaries.
 
 
0 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-05-14 15:11
I beg to differ.

The European parliament is elected by popular vote. It does represent people.

Yes, it is overly bureaucratic.

Yes, it is unfortunately based on business rules and a common currency for most of the countries (though not all).

But the US were forged in a seminal war against a common enemy and the Federal Government is also a huge, unwieldy machinery even though the US have remained U(nited) since 1865 and share a common language and (mostly) culture.
Just imagine building a supranational entity across countries that went at it as European countries did (civil war was about 0.7 million dead while just WWI was about 17 by far mostly in Europe).

Think about doing that with distinct languages and cultures.
Think about doing that without military conquest.

As for the interest of the military, sorry but the eurocorps is window dressing, with only one regiment truly integrated (German and French troops).

The EU was conceived as a democratic shot at a common government and got hijacked in parts by pointy head bureaucrats who only considered GDP when assessing success, but I find your assessment short sighted.

Then there was the failed constitution of 2005 rejected by referendum (Ireland and France) so, no, it did not look good on paper and yes, EU is democratic.

"Throw out the colonialist government imposed by the EU"
Huh?
 
 
+2 # MidwestTom 2012-05-13 10:10
The European Union was designed to ba a step on the way to The New World Order. Let's hope it fails.
 
 
+1 # RMDC 2012-05-14 04:34
the capitalists who own the banks and corporations in the US hate the social democracies of western Europe just as much as they hated the communism of eastern Europe. The formation of the EU was heavily supported by the AAE -- Anglo American elties -- who would of course never fully join it themselves because they knew what it was.

The USG sabotaged an effort to create a Latin American common Market and an Afrrican Unity. So why Europe. It was only social democracy that the AAE wanted to destroy. Austerity is destroying it now.
 
 
+1 # RMDC 2012-05-14 04:10
Normally the way capitalism survives is by making concessions when people rise up. So far the banker run European austerity programs have made no concessions. I wonder if we are beyond the age when capital had to make concessions to the working class.

We heading toward a new middle ages and new feudalism. This time it will be corporate feudalism, but the conditions for 99% of the population will be just the same.
 

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